1.          Letter from Phuket, Thailand - Jan Adams
2.          Annual General Meeting
3.          The Long Mynd Walk - Hilary Boyle
4.          President's Charity Donation - Chris Smith
5.          The Dawn Chorus
6.          A Night at the Opera
7.          Dr Richard (Dick) Herbert

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Letter from Phuket, Thailand

We had a wonderful summer on aeroplanes rather than boats and the visit to China was the highlight of our travels around the Far East mainly because it was very different to what I expected. We arrived in Darwin in September to rejoin the rally at the time the East Timor crisis erupted and Darwin was buzzing with troops, UN Personnel and press with no accommodation, soap or condoms to be found anywhere! The people of Darwin were so friendly and the place so very spacious. We were taken out to lunch, to dinner, on day trips and even lent a car, all because we went to play bowls at Darwin Bowling Club. It was quite a wrench to leave Australia and set sail for Bali .

We were unable to get cruising permits until Bali, so that we did not visit Kupang in West Timor . Because of that we did not visit some of the more Eastern Indonesian islands, but we did come across an Australian marine reserve about 4 days out of Darwin where we stopped for two glorious days. It is called Ashmore Reef and was 3 sandy islands and reef surrounding a very large lagoon with the highest incidence and variety of sea snakes and turtles nesting on the sandy beaches all the year round. It is run by 3 Australian wardens who made us very welcome as normally they only see refugees demanding asylum.

We arrived in Bali on llth October after a week at sea. It was lovely to receive mail and news from home and meet up with our fellow travellers. We spent 10 days in Bali visiting various parts of the island and left the day the results for the President of Indonesia were announced. As we motored up the East side of the island, we noticed many fires on the land and decided it must have been an auspicious day for cremations in the Buddhist calendar, but when we tried to anchor off Pedang, we were advised to keep well away by the harbour master as Mrs. Megawati (who is Balinese) had not won the election and the people were rioting and setting fire to garages and houses. However, later on that day she was made Vice President and the rioting ceased.

We anchored off a group of 3 small islands north of Lambok and liked the place so much we spent 5 days there. The only form of transport was pony and trap and the local people were very friendly. We went by local launch to the mainland of Lambok and did an island tour. We became involved in a local wedding which was very colourful and exciting and involved 2 days of celebrations. We then started heading west along the long chain of Indonesian islands stopping at some very remote and fascinating islands along the way. They were mostly islands that were visited only once a month by ferry and hardly ever saw any tourists, so we were quite an unusual occurrence for them and were followed everywhere we went by crowds of people wanting to touch us. On one island we found a farmer who could speak a few words of English and with whom we managed to indicate we would like to buy chicken or fish. He eventually stopped a truck and turned it round and gestured for us to get in which we did - along with half the village. We must have driven about 5 miles before coming to a market with live scrawny chickens tied together by their feet. The thought of taking live birds feathers and all back with us was a bit too much so we eventually bargained for some fish with about 30 other villagers joining in the bargaining. We then were given chairs to sit in the local 'supermarket" to wait for the truck to return. The 'supermarket' did a wonderful trade as everyone kept coming to say hello and buy goods from the shop owner. We finally got back to where the boat was along with about 40 people by now, having paid for them all to go to the next village they followed us out to the dinghy and stood waving in water up to their knees until we got back to the yacht. We had many experiences like this trying to buy fresh foods and learnt enough basic words of Indonesian to bargain for food. One of the islands was a resort hotel with no guests as the guests only arrive at weekends from Jakarta so we were made very welcome there and even had a shower in one of the resort bungalows.

We arrived in Singapore to be taken out of the water to be fitted with a new prop. shaft in the superb Raffles Marina. Everything about it was 5 star, efficient and very friendly. We had 2 weeks there waiting for spares and it was an extremely comfortable 2 weeks. We were even dined by the Manager of the marina on our last night there and regally entertained in a private room with an eleven course Chinese meal.

We came back to earth by sailing up the west coast of Malaysia visiting Malacca, Port Dickson, Kuala Lumpur , Pangkor and finally Lankaui. AU very interesting but Langkaui was the favourite with superb scenery giving us a taste of what was to come in Thailand .

The islands around Phuket are fantastic with numerous rocks coming straight out of the sea. Some have caves connecting the sea to inland lakes and others have the most perfect silica sand. AU have trees growing from any crevice or nook. We had a lovely Christmas BBQ on Phi Phi island with the best T-bone steaks since we left England , and home made sorbets or fresh fruit. New Year was at Ao Nang near Krabi with a wonderful buffet and spectacular fireworks from a barge in the sea.

Surprise, Surprise - on 1.1.00 the world hasn't come to an end - the GPS works, the radio works and the autohelm. Life goes on as before and on 4th January we leave for Sri Lanka .

Jan Adams

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Annual General Meeting
Post Graduate Centre Update

  Steps are being taken to safeguard the Post Graduate Centre.

Concern was raised at the AGM over the position of the Centre once the Worcestershire Trusts are merged. It is feared that the main educational facility will be centred at Worcester and that the other facilities might be demoted or even closed - especially in view of the changes to General Practice educational requirements.

We were reminded that Kidderminster Medical Society opened the centre prior to a requirement for post graduate education, but once post graduate education was a requirement the trust happily supported the infrastructure, secretarial support etc. of the centre.

It was agreed that we should 'Exert pressure on the appropriate authorities to maintain and indeed improve our existing post graduate functions'. The Society's Executive Committee will start acting on this problem in the near future.

Roll of Honour

  The Roll of Honour being a list of all past members of the Society has now been completed by Mrs Ball. Inevitably some names may have been excluded and therefore members are asked to check the list which will be with the Post Graduate secretary. If there are any absent names we would like to hear about them.

Eventually, it is hoped that the Roll of Honour will be kept in a bound volume in the Post Graduate Centre.   At the Annual General Meeting Mrs Ball was thanked most sincerely by the members for all the hard work she put into this project.


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An unlikely assortment of walkers assembled early on a grey morning under threatening clouds - some in wellies and anoraks more used to the garden than to Long Mynd - and some almost ready to tackle Everest, and everything in between.
David Malcomson was to escort the later more leisurely group, but had prepared copies of a suggested route. This was discarded by the keener element in favour of an even more vigorous circuit, going up Ashes Hollow. Despite much chattering in the ranks, the occasional stop to shed layers of clothes as the sun broke through, and  a little loitering at the back for refreshments, we all managed to follow the leaders (easily distinguished  by their enthusiasm and colourful rucksacs sporting lots of really useful looking pockets and straps and gadgets!
We successfully climbed up the wet and slippery track, some particularly treacherous parts providing opportunities for helping hands and the forging of quite a team spirit to the summit.  Any slight grumblings about the extra detour to the viewpoint were quickly quelled by the wonderful scenery. The general feeling of exhilaration and achievement carried us happily downhill to the Long Mynd Hotel.
The stragglers who had not been paying attention properly were saved from the ignomony of getting lost at the last by the fortuitous arrival of the second group, making a very boisterous descent to lunch. The hotel seemed not the least phased by some unorthodox use of their cloakroom by those not wishing to dine in mud splattered apparel, and served a most welcome and hearty meal.
As the views from the dining room disappeared under lashing rain, our appreciation of the day increased.  When's the next one, please?


Rambling Correspondent , Hilary Boyle

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1997 – 98
President’s Charity Donation

Dr Chris Smith chose as his charity donation for his year and organisation based on Worcestershire called FOAG (Worcestershire Farmers Overseas Action Group). They represent a group of farmers in the county who have become involved in assisting with farming projects in Uganda . Their most recent appeal project was to re-stock Teso, in eastern Uganda , with Oxen. Included in this issue is part of an information sheet produced by FOAG and, after having read it, we are sure that you will agree that our donation of £300 is money very well spent.

FOAG Summer Appeal

Extension of the oxen re-stocking project, Teso , Uganda . Teso lies in central eastern Uganda . It has a high rural population whose source of income comes almost exclusively from agriculture, with many people living at a subsistence level. This income has to pay for food, housing, healthcare and education for the whole family. Increased food production is the only viable key to a better standard of living, where all the children in a family might receive an education and medical help would be possible. The provision of a pair of oxen and a plough can make this difference to a family in Teso. One man with a pair of oxen and a plough can break an acre of land in 2 days, whereas to break the land by hand would take him10 days.

A success story for Uganda . The Teso Oxen Re-Stocking Project is a real success story. Our original aim was to provide 100 pairs of oxen to benefit 400 families. So far, after generous donations from our Associate Membership and Rotary Clubs, we have provided a total of 66 pairs of oxen to benefit 264 families. 20 pairs have gone to Orungo sub-county, 23 pairs of oxen are working in Katine and 23 pairs in Olwelai. The excellent veterinary services provided by Dr Morris Ocweda from Arapai Agricultural College have been vital in keeping the oxen healthy despite some East Coast Fever. The farmers of Orungo, who were the first to be loaned oxen, have now re-paid the bulk of the loan and we now hope to be able to extend the scheme into Apapai and Amoru parishes about 30 miles north west of Soroti.

So what is the need? John Eceru, the Ugandan Administrator of the scheme knows the area well and has reported that these two parishes have high levels of poverty. Farmers grow millet, cassava, sorghum, beans, sesame and sweet potatoes, but with very low yields. Children are increasingly dropping out of school because there is barely enough food produced to feed the family, let alone have any extra to sell to cover school fees.

The need still remains great in the Teso area. There is little input from Non-Governmental Organisations and FOAG, with the Teso Oxen Re-Stocking Project, is a major donor. The farmers of Teso have shown their commitment, their enthusiasm and their ability to respond to change to help themselves by entering fully into the co-operative spirit of the programme. Families share their oxen and plough, they use them to great effect, increasing food production and marketing their produce so that not only are their children educated and able to receive medical care, but the loan on the oxen and plough is repaid, thus enabling other families in the area to benefit.

£300 will buy a pair of oxen, a single furrow plough and 4 months free veterinary care.

Chris Smith


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  Members who did not go missed a treat on the Dawn Chorus Visit to Wyre Forest

At 4.30a.m. On a dull but dry June morning seventeen members arrived at the Wyre forest Visitors Centre, Long Bank, Bewdley, with the sunrise almost upon them. They were greeted by Neville Wilde, a forest warden, who directed us deep into the forest until we reached the Dowles Brook. From here we took a walk of about 3 miles experiencing the sounds of the forest at dawn.

Ornithological novices were delighted by the variety of birdsong at this time - the louder sounds of Robin, Wren, Chifchaff, Blackbird and Songthrush had to be dismissed as we listened for the sounds of Pied Flycatcher, Woodwarbler, Meadow warbler, and unsuccessfully tried to see Kingfishers in the dawning. We also heard the early morning Cuckoo.

Having returned to the Visitor Centre, we were joined by a further party which had left at 6.00 am led by Rosemary Winnall. They had enjoyed a similar but shorter experience to ourselves in the Forest .

A well deserved and hearty breakfast was enjoyed by all.

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On Saturday 11th March some thirty members and guests of the society were treated to a superb evening’s entertainment at Birmingham 's Symphony Hall.

On arrival we were treated to a substantial buffet and drinks in an "executive suite", hospitality being provided by some of Dave Malcolmson's many contacts.  We then moved to our seats in the "grand tier" which gave us an excellent overview of the performing area.

The opera - The Barber of Seville, - performed by the Welsh National Opera was, on this occasion, done in a ‘concert ' version, with minimal props and no scenery or costumes (apart from a hat).  Unusually, for opera, the orchestra was centre stage and the soloists, chorus etc. performed to the side, on the stage apron and at the back

The Welsh National Opera and orchestra have probably never made a more glorious sound largely because of the concert being in Symphony Hall with its magnificent acoustics. And as never before we were much more aware of the orchestra (which is normally hidden in the "pit") and the conductor Carlo Rizzi.

Having been originally disappointed that this evenings performance was to be a concert version, in the end many of us were thrilled to have experienced this unique event.  Our sincere thanks go to Dave for organising the event and for the superb sponsored hospitality which we were afforded.

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Dr Richard (Dick) Herbert

I was born and brought up in Birmingham , having been evacuated to Claverdon at the height of the war. I spent my school days in Bromsgrove, following in the footsteps of my brother Joe, as I did at Birmingham Medical School . I qualified in 1963 and proceeded to undertake house jobs in the city. I then joined my father's practice in Edgbaston which is now the practice of the Professor of General Practice, Richard Hobbs, at Belle View.

After eighteen months with father I opted to return to the hospital and Anaesthetics at the Q.E. I considered continuing in the speciality but decided to look for a practice where I could combine both interests. I actually advertised myself in the BMJ and subsequently received a visit from an exceptionally large GP who was looking for partners to form a group practice. I first met John Ball as he lowered himself through the doorway of my flat and I joined him in 1967.

There then began a long and happy career in Kidderminster with, at first, John and Jimmy Jethwa. It was a small list of 4,500 patients in small premises on the corner of Connaught Avenue , later expanding to 10,500 patients in 1968 when we acquired the list of the Lurring practice in Church Street . We moved to spacious premises at Northumberland Avenue and took on more (and more) partners. The practice has developed over the years into its present form, incorporating all the latest in staff, equipment and ideas!

When I arrived in Kidderminster the hospital had recently appointed it's first consultant anaesthetist and there was no junior staff. All the nights and weekends were covered by myself and other clinical assistants! There followed many happy years combining general practice with nights 'on call’ for anaesthetics.

After a gap of thirty years or so, I have started to take cello lessons again, having first played at school, and I am hoping to improve my technique! I play in the West Midland Light orchestra which plays mainly swing and also in the small Stourbndge Classical Orchestra. I now play golf at Cleobury, having played from childhood but having neglected it for many years, with the other 'bandits' from KGII, Paul BrothwelL John Murray, John Reddy and Reg Johnstone to name but a few.

My other new interest is a rather expensive 'dog kennel'. We have bought an all mod cons caravan so that we may take our two large dogs, awav for their holidays. I am still an active member of the local BASICS squad which has been in operation for almost twenty years now. We are not called out as often these days as we were at the outset because the paramedics deal with most incidents. We still have our uses in cases of entrapment and so on. I also do the occasional shift for the Birmingham CARE team which operates an emergency ambulance car in the city centre on weekend nights.

I have watched KGH develop and grow over the past thirty years into the excellent centre which it now is and I find it both very sad and very frustrating that it is under such threat. One of the greatest pleasures of working in the area has been the unique relationship which exists between the hospital and general practice, at all levels, and I would be very sad to see it disappear- I hope to spend many more happy years here in the Wyre Forest area.


Dick Herbert.


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